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National City Cracks Down on Suspicious Massage Parlors

Three now closed after investigation found prostitution

National City approved an emergency ordinance Tuesday to block any new permits after an investigation revealed a majority of massage parlors in the city were offering sex acts. 

Three massage parlors are now closed after police found health and safety violations like prostitution and even human trafficking in one.

"We want to put a statement out there that the city of National City is not going to tolerate this type of activity in our city," said Senior Assistant City Attorney, Nicole Pedone. 

The emergency ordinance blocks any new massage parlors from opening up shop for 45 days. After that, new establishments would be required to get a permit from the Chief of Police and go through a background check. 

"These types of businesses, they'll close down and reopen under a different name. Or someone who is working at the business will now become the owner,” said Pedone.

Investigators said the parlors were using websites like backpage.com, soliciting young Asian women in provocative clothing. The massage parlors that are part of the investigation posted on the website just days ago.

Marisa Ugarte, Executive Director with Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition is working with the human trafficking victims from this investigation and said it's now a very questionable time.

"They are scared of many things. Fear of the debt, they have fear of being deported. Human trafficking is instilled on fear," Ugarte said.

This is just a 45 day moratorium, so the City Attorney's office will most likely go back to the City Council next month for an extension until a more permanent solution is reached.

City officials said that they don't want this to deter anyone from opening up a business in National City, as long as it's done legally.

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